Its the holiday decorating time of year again! Many garden enthusiasts enjoy additions from their garden and landscape for holiday decorations. In addition to natural berries and interesting twigs, many foliage plants in our southern landscapes offer exciting options for holiday decorations. Let's take a look at the many southern garden trees and shrubs that provide additional beauty in their foliage and fruit for holiday displays.
Plants with attractive berries:
Pyracantha: The beautiful orange or red berries of Pyracantha make a fantastic holiday display in centerpieces or wreaths. Look out for the large thorns they display, however.
Nandina (Nandina domestica): Nandinas sport attractive evergreen foliage, as well as, red berries. ‘Alba' is an excellent variety for white berries.
American Beautyberry (Calicarpa Americana): The beautiful purple clusters of berries on this beauty make for an unusual accent in arrangements.
Deciduous Holly (Ilex decidua): Known for its clusters of red berries on bare stems, this example creates a great color display in arrangements.
Hollies: Many varieties of hollies offer both unusual or variegated foliage and clusters of bright red berries.
Osmanthus: Like the hollies, the Osmanthus offers excellent leaves and branches for cutting.
Plants with attractive foliage:
Boxwood (Buxus Americana): This small-leafed evergreen shrub is a longtime favorite for holiday displays. The leaves do have an unpleasant aroma, so maybe use these branches only in outdoor decorating.
Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana): The blue or gray foliage of this native Juniper are another favorite of crafters. The branches also have a great scent. The abundance of light blue berries is also a wonderful accent.
Firs: This Christmas tree staple also boasts a wonderful scent and good tolerance of hot, dry indoor conditions. Please discard when they begin drooping, as this could become hazardous in indoor conditions. These branches are a favorite to create wreaths and swags.
Florida-anise tree (Illicium floridanum): Cut some branches of this excellent shrub for its very aromatic foliage. Soak branches and provide a water source for your arrangements to keep them from drying out.
Ivy: This vine makes an excellent green for holiday arrangements and is especially useful in raised containers from which the vines can tumble over the edges. Do not use in cut arrangements, however, because without a water source the leaves will wilt.
Junipers: Boasts fragrant, short, green or silver-blue foliage.
White pine: (Pinus storbus): The soft, bluish-green, long needles are beautiful ,as well as, the cones. Used in arrangements and wreaths.
Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora): The large leaves are attractive, glossy and often spray painted gold. Magnolia leaves are a southern staple and make stunning wreaths and bases for large decorations.
Spruce: Spruce greens are excellent for wreaths. Blue spruce is especially attractive because of its color. Cones are also beautiful and can be used to embellish decorations.
Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana): This native pine has shorter, coarser needles than white pine.
Some other excellent evergreens that can be used for holiday greenery include:
Plants with attractive sticks, and or, plumes:
Evergreens represent the foliage filler for indoor decorating. Needled evergreens are usually a traditional part of holiday wreaths or garlands. Broad-leaved evergreens are also a good choice. Branches from southern wax myrtle, southern magnolia, bay, red-tipped photinia, nandina, cherry laurel, mahonia, loquat, Japanese aucuba, and other regional favorites hold up quite well in a vase or wet floral ("Oasis") foam arrangement.
Try some experiments with some 'out of the ordinary' landscape plants for decorations. Depending on what part of the Lower South you live in; some plants to try include rosemary, agarito, Florida anise, deodora cedar, red cedar, Ashe juniper, banana shrub, sweet bay, Texas mountain laurel, dusty miller, asparagus fern, various ivy, and gardenia.
Don't forget the ornamental grasses either, their plumes are naturally attractive. They may also be sprayed in gold or silver to provide accents of color in an indoor arrangement. Also, consider trees and shrubs with beautiful, contorted branches such as 'Harry Lauder's Walking Stick' or 'Corkscrew' Willow. Leafless grapevines also add an interesting texture to the arrangement!